Archives For Iain Duncan Smith

1) ‘The Sun’s free copy sees backlash and a potential fine, and Ed Miliband apologises for endorsement

‘The Sun’ circulated 22 million free copies of it’s paper last week with the front page headline ‘This Is Our England,’ as a commemorative  World Cup edition.

But it was not a war reception from the public with thousands of people burning the paper, sending it back, or putting up posters to tell Royal Mail not to deliver the tabloid to their address.

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Further, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband posed with the paper as an endorsement, which saw fierce criticism from the public against the tabloid’s history, proprietorship and bias.

Miliband later apologised, though he was the only one. Having said previously, that he would ‘stand up to Murdoch,’ this PR faux pas may have cost him.

Also, the paper forgot to print some legally required details on the paper, which could see them paying up to £50 per copy, or £1.1bn in total for this mistake. It would take 3.5 years for the paper to claw the money back in sales.

Read more about this story here.

 

ATOS fined £30m for Work Capability Assessment errors

In an exclusive report, The Londoner was told that ATOS, the French healthcare company on government contract to supply fit-to-work testing, has been fined £30million for errors in it’s delivery of the assessments.

The company has already announced that they are exiting the contract early, due to huge failures exposed by thousands of people attending theassessments, but details of this pay off were kept secret up until now to avoid further embarrassment for the company.

Read more about this story here.

2) Boris’ water cannons are being phased out in Germany amid safety concerns

The water cannons secured by Boris Johnson, are being phased out in Germany (where Boris is buying them from), amid concerns over their safety.

“The “WaWe 9” vehicle, produced by Ziegler Group and colloquially known as “Mammoth” or “Goliath” among German police, was first, introduced in 1982. It is named after the 9,000 litres it can hold in its tank, which it can spray as far as 65 metres at 18 litres a second – though some reports claim the machines can easily be adjusted to double the water pressure.”

Image: Revolution News

Image: Revolution News

The water cannons are two decades old, and first raised concerns in 1985, when activist Günter Sare died after being stunned and run over by a WaWe 9.

An investigation into Sare’s death revealed several flaws in the design of WaWe 9, which contributed to the death.

Germany is seeking to replace the cannons with newer models, explaining why Boris Johnson was able to bag three of them for around £30,000 each – much cheaper than the £1m it costs for new cannon models.

Kerry-anne Mendoza, author of the brilliant ScriptoniteDaily has begun a crowdfund for a People’s Cannon, which you can donate to here.

Read more about this story here.

3) Focus E15 mothers target abandoned houses in protest for decent homes

The excellent Focus E15 mothers targeted local abandoned housing, covering them in posters and photos which said “This family needs a home, this home needs a family.”

Focus E15 mothers will march on July 5th for decent homes for all.

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All photos from Focus E15 mothers facebook page.

4) Farage could face jail for undeclared donations of £205,000

Action is being considered against UKIP leader Nigel Farage after it was found that donations worth £205,000 were undeclared to the electoral commission, breaking electoral law.

The donations, dating back from 2001, made by party supporter John Longhurst were declared to the European Parliamentary register but Farage failed to tell the British Electoral Commission. Donations should be declared within 30 days.

A UKIP spokesperson said “Mr Farage was surprised to learn that the Electoral Commission thought it should be informed as well, as this did not accord with the professional advice he had received at the time.”

Read more about this story here.

5) Salma Yaqoob confronts Iain Duncan Smith on Question Time

Despite the presence of the Minister for Work and Pensions on BBC Question Time last week, welfare and employment played a small role in the discussion. However, Salma Yaqoob, from Birmingham’s Stop The War campaign, did confront Iain Duncan Smith and the ‘scrounger’ rhetoric he has previously relied on.

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1. Iain Duncan Smith used false statistics to justify benefit cuts

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

Following a complaint from the charity Parkinson’s UK, the official statistics watchdog has revealed that the DWP repeatedly used false disability statistics to justify welfare changes and cuts.

The DWP and it’s spokespeople repeatedly claimed that the majority of those on DLA (Disability Living Allowance) were give benefits for life without supporting medical evidence. But the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has revealed that only 10% of those passed for life support had no supporting medical evidence.

“The DWP also claimed that “under the current system of DLA, 71% of claimants get indefinite awards without systematic reassessments. However the UKSA found that in the last two years of the DLA, just 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.

…..Last year Duncan Smith claimed that 8000 people who had been affected by the benefits cap had moved back into work. The UKSA found that this figure was “unsupported by the official statistics.”

Politics.co.uk

Parkinson’s UK policy advisor Donna O’Brien said:

“The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system, and it’s clear this was a tactic to vindicate further welfare cuts.”

 Read more about this story here.

2. Farage’s excruciating LBC interview forces him and the public to face his hypocrisy, finally

Farage faced a difficult interview when he agreed to appear on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show which resulted in UKIP’s communications director intervening to stop the interview.

O’Brien questioned Farage on racism and discrimination, highlighting that Farage’s attitude and comments were discriminatory against his own wife and children who are German.

Well done James O’Brien. Just a shame it took so long for this sort of questioning on UKIP policies and rhetoric to happen.

Watch the full interview here.

 

3. Universal Credit could lead to increase in error and fraud, warns Work and Pensions Committee

The government has stated that the IT system IRIS (Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service) will be used to perform safeguards against fraud throughout Universal Credit, as it does with housing benefit now. However, there are now problems with how the system will run, and access the necessary data – which could mean the overhaul of the system and a design of a new one which could put the system back, and increase fraud and error in the meantime.

Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg MP, said:

“Through the use of RTI—real-time information on PAYE earnings—Universal Credit has the potential over the longer term to substantially reduce fraud and error in the benefits system. However, this could be seriously undermined because of the uncertainty about how DWP will administer the housing element of Universal Credit without increased risks of fraud and error.”

Read more about this story here.

4. Government quietly announces proposals to privatise child protection services

The Department for Education, under Michael Gove, has a proposal to permit the outsourcing of child protection services to companies like G4S and Serco.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

This has alarmed experts, who say “profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process.”

Professor Ellen Munro, who was commissioned by Gove in 2011 to carry out a review into child protection services, said:

“……establishing a market in child protection would create perverse incentives for private companies to either take more children into care or leave too many languishing with dangerous families.

“It’s a bad idea,” she told the Guardian. “It’s the state’s responsibility to protect people from maltreatment. It should not be delegated to a profit-making organisation.”

Sign the petition to keep profit out of child protection here. 

Read more about this story here.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) One in seven households face eviction due to ‘bedroom tax’

A survey by the National Housing Federation has revealed that two thirds of households affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ since it was brought in, in April, have fallen into rent arrears. Further, one in seven households affected have received eviction risk letters and face losing their homes.

The survey is one of three reports all released on Wednesday, to highlight the negative impact of the ‘bedroom tax.’

The disability charity Papworth Trust, sat that a third of disabled people affected by the bedroom tax have been refused discretionary housing payments which act as emergency financial help. The government had previously promised that these payments would be given to disabled people in adapted homes needing help, as a priority.

The reports came on a day surrounding the spare room subsidy as Labour announced their promise to abolish the tax.

Image: The Mirror

Image: The Mirror

Read more about this story here.

2) Archbishop calls welfare reforms a ‘disgrace’

The Archbishop of Westminster, Britain’s most senior Catholic, has called Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms a ‘disgrace’ which remove even the most basic safety net from those facing hunger and poverty and leaves people with nothing for not filling out forms properly.

Vincent Nichols’ words follow other attacks from other prominent Church figures against the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who is a practicing Catholic.

The Archbishop said:

“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.

“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis. And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive.”

Read more about this story here.

3) FOI reveals extent of ‘sanctions regime’

The true extent of the government’s sanction regime has been revealed in an Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has repeatedly denied that the new system of sanctioning brought in on 3rd December 2012 does not set targets for sanctions by pressurising workers.

Yet, the FOI revealed that 85% of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who saw their benefits slashed or removed had never been sanctioned previously.

This calls into question the motives behind the new regulations for sanctions. The Work Programme, thought to have cost around £3-5bn, has been branded a failure which lets down the sick and disabled.

Image: celebpictu

Image: celebpictu

Read more about this story.

4) Water Cannon Public Meeting – Email your opinion in NOW to stop Water Cannon reaching our streets

A public meeting will be held today at City Hall to hear people’s views on water cannon. Many people are attending in protest at this hugely violent weapon being brought to our streets.

The event page says:

“The police are working with the government to attempt to introduce water cannons across England and Wales to deal with “anticipated street protests as a result of ongoing austerity measures”.

“Water cannons don’t just get you a bit wet and cold.

“The high-pressure jet of water is capable of ripping out your eyes. (WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT: http://thethirdestate.net/2010/12/the-truth-about-water-cannons/). The police themselves are open about the fact that water cannons are “capable of causing serious injury or even death”.

“On the evening of 17 February 2014, a little-publicised public meeting is taking place at City Hall on the possible introduction of water cannons, hosted by the Deputy Mayor and the Met Police. We need to make sure they understand loud and clear there is NO PUBLIC CONSENT for the introduction of these life-destroying weapons on our streets.”

Tell the public consultation what you think about water cannons via watercannonengagement@mopac.london.gov.uk

Visit the event page here.

Watch the two minute video on the Truth about Water Cannon here:

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) Number of foodbanks in UK reached 1,000+

The number of foodbanks in the UK has exceeded 1,000 as more people are forced to rely on food aid to deal with the rising cost of living against cuts to pay and benefits.

The Trussell Trust estimate that 1million people will use food banks this year, and state that welfare cuts and delays to payments are one of the main reasons for growing reliance. The Trust have now even begun to create parcels for those unable to afford to heat up their dinner with a cooker or hob, called “kettle boxes,” driving home the ‘heat or eat’ choice many families are having to make up and down the country.

Foob Bank usage has risen 465% says Trussell Trust Image: dailyrecord.co.uk

Foob Bank usage has risen 465% says Trussell Trust Image: dailyrecord.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) UK benefits “manifestly inadequate,” say Council of Europe 

UK pensions, jobseeker’s allowance and incapacity benefits are “manifestly inadequate” according to the Council of Europe, because they fall below 40% of the median income of European states. The Council, based in Strasbourg, revealed the findings following the annual review of UK adherence to the European social charter.

Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the findings as ‘lunacy,’ insisting “government has made great strides in fixing the welfare system so that spending is brought under control.”

The news is likely to spark fresh controversy between the government and European commitments.

Image: theweek.co.uk

Image: theweek.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

3) Bedroom tax pushing councils to financial crisis

Councils have warned they are facing financial crisis due to the number of people needing help because of the bedroom tax.

A survey found that over 200,000 people applied for extra help and hardship funds in the six months following the introduction of the controversial tax in April last year.

Four out of five councils have seen rises in the number of people needing Discretionary Housing Benefits, and councils have warned that the need for these payments outstrip the amount given to councils by the government.

4) Rufus Hound announces he will stand in MEP elections for National Health Action Party, bringing attention to the privatisation of the NHS

On the Jonathan Ross show, comedian Rufus Hound announced he would stand at the next European elections as an MEP in a campaign that aims to bring attention to and stop the privatisation of the National Health Service.

The comedian penned a blog post entitled ‘Cameron wants your kids to die unless you’re rich‘ which sparked media controversy, but worked in bringing the subject to the limelight, as Rufus pointed out the real risks of losing our NHS.

Image: digitalspy.co.uk

Image: digitalspy.co.uk

 

Hound told Jonathon Ross;

“I don’t want to run as an MEP, I really don’t. I want to dick about with this man (Robert Lindsay) because that’s a lot more fun.

“But I’m looking around for who is stepping forward and telling people about it and nobody is.”

Read more about this story. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1)   WOW Petition hits 100,000 signatures

 

Image: WOW Petition

Image: WOW Petition

The WOW petition, calling for a re-assessment of welfare reform and an end to the Work Capability Assessment, sanctions and forced work for the sick and disabled has hit its 100,000 signature target.

This means that it shall now be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

The petition was started by comedienne, writer and disability rights campaigner Francesca Martinez, and has been branded as the petition to stop the War On Welfare.

The WOW petition also calls for independent inquiries into ATOS, care home charges and the closure of Remploy factories.

This follows the news of another successful petition which calls on Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith to answer MPs on the failures and problems of welfare reform, which he is due to attend on 9th December.

Read more about this story here.

2)   NHS must be preserved from commercial interests who want to privatise, says Stephen Hawking

World famous physicist, Stephen Hawking has called for protection of the NHS from privatization, insisting he would have died without it.

Hawking, who developed motor neurone disease at the age of 21, said during filming of a Channel 4 film:

“Only last summer, I caught pneumonia, and would have died, but for the NHS hospital care. We must retain this critical public service, and prevent the establishment of a two-tier system, with the best medicine for the wealthy, and an inferior service for the rest.”

The film will be shown on C4 this Wednesday.

Image: Christian Medical Comment

Image: Christian Medical Comment

Read more about this story here.

3) Workfare Week of Action

Boycott Workfare will begin a week of action on Monday 2nd December against the government policies that force benefit claimants to undertake full time work for no pay or under threat of losing their benefits.

The week of action kicks off with a noise demo outside Senate House where a government workfare conference is taking place, alongside the potential ‘employers’ of workfare.

Find out more about the week of action here.

4)   Boris Johnson defends the rich and greed, but not the sick, disabled or unemployed

In the Margaret Thatcher lecture, Boris Johnson defended the super-rich again and insisted that greed was a valuable ‘economic spur’ whilst also adding that where success is measured, we should not ignore the IQ levels of those in high places.

Well, we had a lot to say about that.

Read our open letter. 

 

Image: One World Chronical

Image: One World Chronical

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

Despite an outward stress on the necessity of work, the coalition government have helped to garner an employment landscape of insecurity, poverty and low worth. Welfare policy and employment laws changed over the last two years have been crucial in creating a power imbalance in favour of employers, ultimately damaging employee worth, status and work life.

At the beginning of this year, David Cameron announced plans to make it easier for employers to fire workers. By increasing the length of service from one year to two before a hearing can be called following dismissal, and by reducing the sick pay, redundancy pay and compensation amounts employees can claim for, Cameron said that these relaxations in employment laws would make companies see less risk in hiring more people, and this would also ‘get rid of the bad’ to let in the skilled employees.

David-Cameron1

However, allowing employers to fire employees more easily by cutting red tape does not solve the problem of a lack of jobs. Further, the report that David Cameron commissioned from Adrian Beecroft in support of law relaxation was admittedly based on a ‘hunch’ rather than economic proof or explanation:

“Quantifying the loss of jobs arising from the burden of regulation, and the economic value of those jobs, is an impossible task…How many more businesses would there be, how many people would they employ, how many more people would existing businesses employ, how profitable would all these businesses be? Who knows?”

Yet, Cameron pressed to apply these measures, insisting that America had relaxed it’s laws and seen a drop in unemployment. But, while the US remained relatively stagnant in it’s position, Germany halved it’s unemployment figures whilst maintaining much stronger laws and regulations for employers.

Whilst Cameron was forced to retreat on these plans by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the subject has surfaced again a few times, with support from Vince Cable and some Tory Ministers. Still, changes to laws like this during a fragile recovery will only cause anxiety for workers who feel the threat of losing their jobs on top of the hardship of the current climate. It also assumes the employer acts in employee interests which has been disproven time and time again, says lawyer Edward Cooper:

“An underlying assumption in these proposals is that employers all act reasonably. We see day in and day out that employers do not always act reasonably, especially when there is money to be saved.”

Edward Cooper, Channel 4, 2012

Despite these proposals being put on the back burner, changes to employment tribunal fees were passed in July this year, meaning that employees seeking justice, investigation, hearing or tribunal would now have to pay to have their case heard. Again, at a time of fragility for the market, this put employees on the back foot should they be treated unfairly by their employer.

Under the new rules, it would cost £160-250 to lodge a claim and a further £230-950 if the claim goes to court, which is usually the case with claims such as unfair dismissal or discrimination. The Ministry of Justice also charge £1200 for a full hearing if people want to challenge the decision of an employment tribunal.

Government have said that these fees were brought in to encourage ‘mediation’ and negotiation without the Courts, in the hope more cases could be settled outside the legal system.

However, these fees are attacks on the employee’s rights alone, and only make it harder for employees to fight companies who often already have the upper hand. The fees give companies more leeway to treat employees unfairly, in the hope they cannot afford to bring them to justice. For some grievances, the cost is more than the money an employee feels they are owed, but could count highly as a case for morality or discrimination and be important in ensuring a company is reprimanded for treating someone unfairly.

Despite the fees now existing, trade union Unison has won the right to take the case to judicial review, in the hope the fees will be lifted. Unison, with the support of the Human Rights Commission, argue that the fees make it impossible for workers to exercise their rights. The Ministry of Justice have vowed to refund all fees should Unison win the case.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary said the fees “give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.”

The hearing continues.

As well as these changes to laws, the government have implemented their own damaging schemes, which are currently taking their toll on the employment market. Welfare-to-work schemes which incorporate workfare policies are forcibly sending unemployed people to work for 30-60 hours a week for their unemployment benefit or they risk sanctions or withdrawal of benefits.

Minster for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith insisted these policies were designed to allow people to gain work experience to secure future employment. However, the schemes have just widened the already burgeoning ‘work experience’ and ‘intern’ industry which already operates cruelly in the fashion, media and music world and employs an entire workforce of free labour for the same, often unlikely, chance of employment at the end.

Whilst gaining months of free work experience was once expected if you wanted to get into a much sought after industry, now workfare policies insist they are required for minimum wage jobs stacking shelves. As the interns of the music and media industries are trying to gather to gain some rights and protection against being exploited by companies and employers, the welfare-to-work programmes are normalising work experience for the low paid.  Entry level jobs are beginning to carry work experience criteria, and the free workforce donated by the government rotates to feed a steady supply of workers to companies. This sort of policy replaces paid jobs with free labour. It devalues work and treats workers as commodities. It creates higher barriers to work by insisting on months of free work for minimum wage jobs.

Image: legal-aware.org

Image: legal-aware.org

Thus workers are desperate, and employers are often only happy to exploit this, as we have seen in the prevalence of the zero hour contract. Sports direct used these contracts for over 90% of staff. They offered no holiday or sick pay, and did not have to guarantee any hours. To ensure employees would take home money, they would have to take any hours the employer asked of them, at whatever short notice. Giselle Cory of the Resolution Foundation said in an interview with RealFare earlier this year, that these contracts were also found to be used as management tools, to punish employees if they did not take on work when and as the employer demanded:

“But what we see actually, is that these contracts are being used to disempower the employee. We’ve seen evidence of really bad management practice where someone is on a zero hour contract, their boss says ‘I want you to work Saturday.’ They might say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I can’t get childcare’ for example, or ‘I would simply rather not’, and they are zeroed down, which is effectively where they’re pushed to very few or no hours in the medium or longer term. So that’s in effect, using these contracts as a management tool, when that’s not what they’re intended for and that’s a great imbalance of power between the employer and the employee.”

Giselle Cory, Resolution Foundation

And with the rise of these contracts we also see the worst rates of underemployment on record, with 1.46m people in part time work in need of more hours. Thousands of people are desperate for work and so many take on any contract and terms they can. This is at the expense of their rights and their home life as work may demand availability at any time. Many are at the mercy of employers to work at short notice and so sacrifice plans, commitments, family time for minimum wage jobs that offer them no security or help should they fall ill or need time off. The imbalance is clear.

And the government’s moves have made it easier to exploit employees, and treat them as disposable. The priorities have not been to make a secure employment landscape for people in the recovery but to allow employers to use and abuse at will. Whilst the government and media rhetoric has made it shameful not to work, employers are made to feel no shame for making workers poor on time, worth and money.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) ‘No more Neets’ – IPPR release new report for Labour plan to tackle 1m unemployed youth

The IPPR released a report entitled ‘No More Neets’ aimed at tackling the ‘lost generation’ of 1m unemployed 16-24 year olds not in employment, education or training.

The report has been attacked for removing benefits from young people and replacing it with a new ‘Youth Allowance’ which would require young people to take on training or work experience for up to six months, before being offered a taxpayer subsidised minimum wage or traineeship role, should they not find any other employment.

The plan takes on some of the welfare-to-work programmes and ideas, but these have failed to solve employment problems time and time again. As Johnny Void explains “you can’t fix unemployment by fixing unemployed people, a lesson which has sadly still not been learned by politicians today.”

Rachel Reeves, Labour welfare minister supports the IPPR report Image: BBC

Rachel Reeves, Labour welfare minister supports the IPPR report Image: BBC

Read the report here.

Read Johnny Void’s post on the report here.

2) Training people to use Universal Credit could cost hundreds of millions

Training claimants to use the new Universal Credit system could cost hundreds of millions, according to an unpublished report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. The study, carried out by 3 London councils, found that each would have to spend £6m over two years on training and support for claimants, to equip them with digital and financial skills required to use the system.

The report suggests that millions of hours of support, face-to-face training and telephone help from charities, private companies and government will be required to ensure claimants can use the online system, or failure to do so could risk debt, eviction and homelessness. Around one in ten claimants will need intensive support.

Image: gov.uk

Image: gov.uk

Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, insisted the system would give claimants a chance “to get back into the 21st Century,” by reaching the digitally tame and socially excluded households. However, the Universal Credit system has already been blighted with overspending and budget problems, with £34m already written off earlier this year due to IT problems.

Read more about this story here. 

3) ATOS launches YouTube channel for Benefit claimants

ATOS, the French healthcare company which administers the controversial fit-to-work tests has launched a new YouTube channel for benefit claimants. The channel has some short videos providing information for disabled claimants applying for the new Personal Independence Payment, fit-to-work testing and Employment Support Allowance.

See more videos here.

4) Petition success will see Iain Duncan Smith questioned over flagship policies

Following a petition that gained over 100,000 signatures, Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith will have to face questioning over the flagship Universal Credit policy and other DWP statistics and spending on 9th December at 4:30pm. Numerous revelations, problems (like the above) and lies have shrouded policy implemented by IDS, in the biggest reforms to happen to welfare policy ever. Yet, the Minister has been regularly absent or unavailable to comment on the problems.

Paula Peters, a disability campaigner posted the following photo and comment after handing in the petition:

“Petition with 105,000+ to call Iain Duncan Smith to account for his lies and corruption. It was taken to Westminister by Jane Linney, Kate Green (Labour Shadow Minister for Disabled People), Liz Kendall (Labour shadow minister for Care and Older People), Paula Peters and Debbie Sayers. The group along with the MPs signed the covering letter that went with the box and then it was handed over. Because of the petition Iain Duncan Smith will appear in front of a select committee on 9th December. So far he has arrogantly evaded attempts to question him, this time he will have to appear. Well done to all the brave and beautiful disabled people who fought long and hard despite facing incredible hardship to make this petition happen.”

1422595_715567895139015_565248047_nRead more about this story here. 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

A short while back the People’s Assembly and some trade unions called for a day of civil disobedience on the 5th of November in a united act of solidarity against austerity. 

Image: The People's Assembly

Image: The People’s Assembly

The day is nearly here, and the People’s Assembly “want to make this Firework Night one, which David Cameron will remember and remember for a very long time.”

The day of civil disobedience aims to see protests in every town and city in the country with actions such as roadblocks, occupations of banks, moneylenders and universities, as well as the eventual bonfire in many places made up of the eviction letters, debt letters, loan company adverts, welfare legislation, banners and effigies of Cameron, Gove, Clegg, Osbourne or anyone fitting.

There are three waves of action – one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Make sure you don’t miss yours. Find out more about what is happening near you by visiting The People’s Assembly site.

The MIllion Mask March will also take place on 5th November in a worldwide march reaching 400 locations, combining the forces of Occupy, Anonymous, Wikileaks, The Pirate Party and the Oath Keepers.

The Facebook page says: “Remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”

You can see where the march is happening in the UK here.

Here is the Anonymous announcement for this day of action:

Whatever you do, join in the acts of solidarity against the punishing system which is enslaving people all over the globe in the interests of a few rich people. Time to act.

We came across this excellent video made and created by the dole animators who also take part in the video. From the voices of those at the heart of the effects of punishing welfare reform, we hear what it is really like for the so-called ‘scroungers’ who are on benefits, after losing their job, becoming ill or unable to work.

“We warn you not to be ill,

not to have an accident,

not to lose your job.

We warn you not to make the choices we didn’t make.”

The Dole Animators

1) Thousands across country falling into rent arrears as reforms and bedroom tax effects deepen

The number of people falling into rent arrears has almost doubled from 35% to 62% in the first three months of the new bedroom tax policy, where social housing tenants deemed to have a spare room are charged.

“Rent arrears for all 500,000 tenants covered by the 45 survey respondents rose by an average of 21 per cent. This is £17.5 million in cash terms, enough to build almost 1,000 homes.”

A combination of a rise in living costs, rising rent, below inflation increases of benefit rates and a lack of smaller housing for tenants looking to downsize is causing people to become trapped in arrears, which forces landlords to lose out on rent and pushes people into poverty cycles.

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Bedroom Tax Protest Image: birminghamagainstthecuts.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

2) Universal credit rolled out further, despite criticism and instability of reform so far

Universal Credit is being rolled out across West London today, in the next step towards a national launch. Hammersmith and Fulham will be the latest councils to take on the government’s flagship reform which will replace several means tested benefits and pay in a single amount, monthly.

The scheme is being rolled out more carefully and slowly than anticipated, following problems with IT, staff and responses to the new payment.

Labour have described the reform as “total chaos.”

Still, the Department for Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith has pressed forward amid strong criticisms and clear failings of budgeting and control, and the reform will be fully rolled out by 2017.

Image: theweek.co.uk

Iain Duncan Smith – Image: theweek.co.uk

Read more about this story here.

3) Mother of four with rare allergy told to find work

A mother of four with an allergy to shoes has been ruled fit-to-work and had her benefits cut.

Tracey Kenny, 45, from Eccles, Greater Manchester has been out of work for 24 years due to an allergy that stops her from wearing shoes. Tracey is allergic to dust, metal, glue, rubber and nickel, and is forced to wear gloves to handle her cutlery.

Doctors even sourced and made some special shoes from Switzerland for Tracey to wear, but they still irritated her feet.

She said: “I don’t know how these  people expect me to go to work or go to job interviews with no shoes on – because that is what I would have to do.”

“I can only wear shoes for ten or 15  minutes, before my feet blister and split. It stops me from doing everything.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Russell Brand’s Newsnight interview calls for revolution against wealth gap, politics and environmental damage, and goes viral

If you haven’t seen it, you must watch:

 

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass